Import-Export Specialist: Job Duties, Requirements and Career Info

Learn about the education and preparation needed to become an import-export specialist. Get a quick view of the requirements as well as details about degree programs, job duties and salary projections to find out if this is the career for you.

Essentially, import-export specialists are professionals who coordinate international shipping. They're tasked with tracking shipments, working with clients and categorizing shipments. This profession requires at least a bachelor's degree and 5 years of experience.

Essential Information

Import-export specialists facilitate shipments crossing international borders. They may also be called import/export coordinators or import/export managers. Their main duty is to ensure that the shipment adheres to customs regulations. They may also track shipments and work with clients on reducing duties owed. Most professionals in the field have at least a bachelor's degree in a relevant area of business and experience.

Required Education Bachelor's degree in a relevant business-related field
Additional Requirements 5 years of experience
Projected Job Growth (2014-2024) * 7% (business operation specialists)
Median Salary (2016) ** $39,258

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), **PayScale.com

Job Duties

Import-export specialists have many duties. Primarily, they document shipments to ensure that they are in compliance with customs rules and regulations. Import-export specialists also counsel clients on matters like tariffs, insurance, and quotas. They categorize shipments according to a tariff coding system. This position also requires consulting with customs agents to ease passage of shipments through customs. Import-export specialists also counsel their clients how to reduce duties and taxes owed.

Other duties of the import-export specialist have to do with shipment of the goods. They track the location of the shipment. They prepare goods for shipment, using the best, most economical packaging. Transportation, warehousing, or distribution of goods may also be a job duty of the import-export specialist. They determine how much insurance to take out on the shipment.


Most positions require a bachelor's degree and five years of experience. They also require computer and management skills. A proficiency in another language is also desirable.

Certificates, associate's degrees, and bachelor's degrees are all available. Certificate programs prepare students for entry-level jobs as import-export specialists. An associate's degree program helps those who are thinking about entering the profession. Courses are typically in exports, money and banking, import customs regulations, and business law. A bachelor's degree program typically consists of 120 credits spread over four years and offers an in-depth study in finance, business, management, international trade, and related topics. Students may have the option to choose a concentration in the specialty of their choice.

Career Information

Students who earn a degree in the field can pursue careers in international marketing, export or import trading or other international trade services. According to PayScale.com, import-export agents earned between $28,368 and $52,744 annually, as of January 2016.

Import-export specialist must have a strong understanding of business, trading practices and laws, mathematics and great communication skills as they work with clients from many different countries and cultures on a daily basis. If this sounds like your forte then becoming an import-export specialist might be for you.

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